Friday, December 29, 2006


2006 has been an awesome year - so what better to do than look back and remind ourselves of The McChronicles' very best McDonald's experiences.

The rules are simple, The McChronicles had to have some form of direct experience with the store/event during 2006. Here goes:

  1. Best Store (building): Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico: From the "curb appeal" to the building design to the materials of construction, this facility is VERY impressive. It reminded us of a museum. After we enjoyed our meal, we didn't want to leave - it is that nice!
  2. Best Owner/Operator: Dennis Stabile (store #13058) Rosemont, Illinois, USA: The minute we walked into this store, we knew it was different. It's not the looks, it's the PEOPLE. And the people are top-shelf due, in part, to what seems to be great management from the top. It also appears that Mr. Stabile has a knack for hiring great people. Elements like respect, empowerment, and appreciation all come together - ultimately creating the customer experience. Great job Mr. Stabile! We'd love to meet and interview you someday.
  3. Best Surprise Appearance: Pop-Up McDonald’s, Shenzhen, China: Imagine our delight ...we were seeking sustinence at a trade exhibition with very low expectations ("show food" is usually abominable). When we found this mobile-McDonald's we were delighted!
  4. Cleanest McDonald’s: Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico: That's right - Zapopan appears twice. That's because, in addition to enjoying a very cool design, the facility is kept impeccably clean - inside and out. This category receives special attention since CLEANLINESS is one of the key elements that McDonald's focuses on - and sells to the consumer. Zapopan really excels in this category.
  5. Best McDonald’s Web Offering: McDonald’s Senior Director of Web Communications - Steve Wilson’s “The McDonald’s You Don’t Know”: The McChronicles likes Steve's style - simple and to the point. Nowhere throughout the site do we detect defensiveness or corporate-speak. And some of the links are really fun, too. Keep it coming, Steve.
  6. Best McDonald’s Blog: Olympic Champion Crew Community: It's simply hard to beat the combination of The Olympics, people on a really cool trip to Italy, and the exuberance of people on a mission. It all comes through here.
  7. Best McDonald’s Mashup - Cortland, NY: This is not the BEST McDonald's restaurant of the year, but it has so many interesting elements that we made up this category. At first blush, the store appears typical. But, when you walk in, you are surrounded with a great classical music theme. Then there's the McDonald's history stuff, then there's the Hershey's ice cream parlor. Phew!! So much stuff to enjoy.
  8. Best McDonald's Billboard: Wrigleyville (Chicago), Illinois: The combination of simplicity, complexity, artistry, and ancient principles had the McChronicles shouting, "Wicked Cool" You've got to love this one on so many levels.
  9. Best McDonald’s Image on Flickr: Kate Blood’s “Mood Indigo: Here is one for the fans, from the fans. Kate really used her artistic eye (and photographic skills) to create this awesome image. Thanks for this, Kate.
  10. Best McDonald’s Ad: McShawarma ad: A ton of work went into this effort - but it was well worth it.
And here is a special year-end bonus to The McChronicles TOP 10 BEST McDONALD'S EXPERIENCES OF 2006.

Since we are committed to chronicling the McDonald's brand ex
perience from the CUSTOMER'S point of view, we want to honor the person that has so much to do with our experience: the store manager. The store manager kind of reminds us of an Army sergeant - caught between two worlds (management and the rank and file). These people struggle to keep both ends of the equation happy - even when they have conflicting agendas. In addition, they are responsible for transferring the teachings and skills to the people that have EVERYTHING to do with the customer experience - the frontline crew person. In other words, these are the people responsible for the interactions that we, the consumer, have with McDonald's - every visit.

  • Team Spirit: Jean Si Jean really impressed us with her appreciation of, and dedication to, working with and learning from her team of local managers. The result is a store that adheres to the corporate principles, runs well, and delivers on the McDonald's promise.
  • Passion: Steven HOU Yan Ping Steven LOVES McDonald's! And he totally respects what the corporate program can do for both the employees and the customers. Steven, we're still hoping that you get selected for the Beijing Olympics McDonald's crew - you deserve it.
  • Personality: Jays C Jays is blessed with a great owner/operator - and vice versa. This manager found time to be interviewed, take drive-thru orders, cheer on a colleague who was mopping the floor, explain a new entertainment system to us, and more. Her energy, enthusiasm, brains, and smile add up to an excellent managerial style.
  • Positive Attitude: Zhong Xiao Li Miss Zhong can do ANYTHING! At least it seemed that way during our interview. Her McDonald's training seems to have empowered and encouraged her - but her "can do" attitude is all hers. The combination makes for an excellent ambassador for McDonald's, and a super manager for her team.
Each of these winners really stood out. The McChronicles had an easy time conjuring up the great feelings and/or experiences that each delivered. What a pleasure it is to bestow these accolades. They are all well-deserved.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


The McChronicles has noted a trend in several McDonald's recently. Here's how it goes:

  1. the crew person at the counter says, "Who's next?".
  2. the customer steps up and places their order.
  3. the order is taken, the customer pays and receives their change.
  4. the customer suddenly acquires super powers, becomes invisible, and the crew person acts as if the customer evaporated.
  5. the crew person says, "Who's next?"
The McChronicles is kind of "hip". We "get it". So the first time this happened we accommodated it as we sought to understand what was happening. The behavior was attributed to inexperience or rudeness on the part of the crew (or maybe it was our breath). Then it happened again ... and again ... and ... you get the point.

Imagine the customer experience of someone who doesn't visit McDonald's a lot. Imagine the customer experience of someone who is a little slow. Imagine the perception of someone who is used to a slightly more respectful dignified level of treatment. Virtually ANYONE is going to wonder:
"Did I just become invisible?"
"Is my order in progress?"
"Am I supposed to stand here or move somewhere else?" "How will I know when my order is ready?" "Who will tell me when my order is ready?"
    Now, this is bad enough when things go to plan. But when an order ends up going into overtime, then a person's mind starts getting crazy. We won't attempt to list the things that may occur to a person while they're in that zone.

    Needless to say ... STRIKE THAT ... we'll say it:

    McDonald's crew:

    1. Do expect to be respected and treated kindly - by your peers, management, and customers. You deserve that.
    2. Real, warm-blooded human beings are your customers. We're ALL not jerks/rude/outrageous. Some of us are actually decent, nice people who are hoping for a nice meal and a modicum of acknowledgement.
    3. Please act as if you are waiting on a human being. Act as if your Mom/Grandma/favorite teacher/coach/guru/friend was on line.
    4. Be aware of the fact that virtually none of us know what you are doing when you type on your register - and we certainly don't know the protocol or the system. We assume that we will order, pay, and be handed food. If there is a minor delay, we expect that you will SPEAK TO US LIKE WE ARE HUMANS (remember your Mom/Grandma...?), tell us what is happening, and keep us informed as the unexpected (unadvertised) delay plays out.
    5. Customers should know that you don't know, or care, about what is going on in our lives. Customers have no right to blow up at you because their marriage sucks, their car is falling apart, and their kids don't respect them. We are to be civil and respectful.
    6. Please don't take it out on us if your manager is a jerk, or if anything else in your life is irritating you.
    In short, please tell us what just happened, what you want us to do next, and what we are waiting for. We'll be OK with it. Please.

    The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
    Image: One of the BEST customer service moments encountered by The McChronicles in 2006.

    Monday, December 18, 2006

    The Holiday Rush

    The Holiday season really packs people into the shopping malls. So, The McChronicles dropped by New Hartford, New York's Sangertown Square Mall to see how their McDonald's was holding up.

    As expected, the crowd was thick with hungry shoppers. And the queue at the McDonald's was long. The crew seemed to be handling things fairly well. But there was a bit too much confusion behind the counter to say things were going "perfectly". The stress must be quite high back there (but it isn't like the crowds are unexpected, either).

    During our long observation we noted no surly customers, and the crew did a great job handling the business.

    When you drop by McDonald's during your holiday shopping trips be sure to give a word of encouragement to the people behind the counter. They'll appreciate it.

    Any holiday mall McDonald's stories to share? Add them to our COMMENTS section, below.

    The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
    The McChronicles.

    Sunday, December 17, 2006

    McChronicles named TIME MAGAZINE Person Of The Year!

    According to

    "Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I'm not going to watch Lost tonight. I'm going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I'm going to mash up 50 Cent's vocals with Queen's instrumentals? I'm going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?"

    "The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you."

    So, we'd like to thank the academy, and everyone else involved in this flattering achievement.

    More importantly, The McChronicles wants to thank our friends who gave us McDonald's Arch Cards this holiday season (we're SO easy to buy for). Rest assured that these will be put to immediate good use. You should consider this excellent, handy gift for your friends.

    The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
    The McChronicles.

    Monday, December 11, 2006

    The Obesity Debate

    Two smart people debating the obesity /fast-food issue. Interesting.

    Please weigh in (pun intended) with your comments on this topic.

    The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

    Donee White

    Wednesday, December 06, 2006

    McDonald's, New York City: Trans Fat Ruling

    Trans Fat is in the news! According to an article in Forbes, New York City's "department of Health and Mental Hygiene, ... argues that the chemically modified ingredient (trans fat) kills 500 Gothamites each year".

    According to Reuters (yesterday): "New York City banned most artificial trans fats from restaurants on Tuesday, forcing national fast-food chains and mom-and-pop diners alike to phase out artery-clogging oils from their cooking."

    "The law is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States and will require restaurants including McDonald's Corp. to eliminate trans fats by July 2007."

    The article went on to say, "McDonald's Corp. has been trying since 2002 to reduce trans fats in its french fries.".

    So, the rule went into effect yesterday, but the product doesn't have to change until this coming summer. And this is only for New York City McDonald's.

    According to the Chicago Tribune, " McDonald's Corp. might not be able to meet New York City's proposed deadline for eliminating trans fats in its cooking oils, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. said Thursday after meeting with a company official. Oak Brook-based McDonald's is struggling to find a substitute oil that preserves the flavor of its french fries, and isn't likely to do so before the July 2008 target, said Vallone, who met this past Monday with McDonald's lobbyist Patrick Theisen."

    So, is it July of 2007 or 2008 for McDonald's?

    In the same story an analyst from A.G. Edwards said, "The company is 'getting very close to perfecting the formulation'

    According to the
    Wall Street Journal, to check out fast food french fries made without (or with reduced) trans fats, stop into one of these restaurants:

    • Wendy's
    • KFC
    • Taco Bell
    • Arby's
    • Ruby Tuesday
    • Chili's
    The previously-cited Forbes article included this interesting tidbit:

    "The science has changed,” (McDonald's CEO James) Skinner was quoted as saying. “You look at when we went to vegetable oil in the early 1990s, when that was the supportive science, ‘Oh you have to get out of saturated fats, you gotta get out of beef tallow,’ we made that change. Now the science has changed. Now it’s a TFA [trans fat] problem.” Skinner said he thought the concerns were being blown out of proportion. "It's more of a media thing," he was quoted as saying."

    UPDATE: The McChronicles recommends this informative article regarding Trans Fat and McDonald's from if you want to learn a bit more.

    The McChronicles would like to see:

    1. McDonald's lead the way on this (too late)
    2. McDonald's take the high road (they're limping)
    3. McDonald's not whining about it (versus negotiating with city officials and ... well ... whining about it)
    It's too late to make us proud, McDonald's. But there is still time to quiet down and comply with the ruling. You can see that this will spread like wild fire - so get with it.

    Will the french fry ever be the same? Maybe (it seems to be at Wendy's - their fries taste great). Or maybe not. How about reinventing the french fry? Or making it NOT about the french fry? Do something so outrageous that we all forget about it and fall in love with something else. Something healthier and tastier.

    Or compromise with a technology you already have. Why not run with your
    Shaka Shaka Potato concept to cover the reduced flavor of a non-trans fat french fry?

    What do you think about this trans fat issue? Please comment.

    The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    New Store in Stroudsburg, PA

    Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania has some excitement brewing. A brand new McDonald's is being erected this week.

    In these images (taken last Saturday at 330 Main Street) we can see a typical restaurant with what appears to be a PlayPlace, going up right before our eyes.

    The McChronicles can't wait for the restaurant to open!

    The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
    Image: roving McChronicles reporter, Chris.

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    San Antonio - Very Cool!

    The McChronicles headed down to old San Anton' since we had heard of a McDonald's that offered up something unique. We're not talking about a new sandwich - we're talking about style.

    We noticed something interesting before we even entered the restaurant. This place is located in a very old, wild west-style building. It was built in 1897 and had previously served as a grocery, according to the managers.

    And speaking of managers - these people were excellent ambassadors. Obviously proud of both McDonald's and their store, they made time to extol the many virtues of their unique establishment. And, by the way, this McDonald's has earned the Outstanding Restaurant Award for the Houston San Antonio area this summer. This place is clean and friendly. They even post a sign PROMISING QSC (quality, service, cleanliness).

    The managers of store #5395 attribute a ton of credit to the store operators, Richard and Celia Acosta.

    The old style decor is very interesting, and much appreciated. The managers mentioned they have heard that all McDonald's are to be fitted with WiFi and flat-screen displays. They are concerned that, if such a program were instituted here, their store would lose much of it's charm. The McChronicles agrees.

    PS: The famed Alamo is just nearby. Be sure to check it out while visiting this super McDonald's.

    The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
    Images: The McChronicles.